PANGASINAN BOARD TO DISCUSS MOVES OVER RENEWED TREE CUTTING ALONG MANILA NORTH ROAD

LINGAYEN — Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Z. Calimlim, Jr. said the provincial board will discuss necessary actions to be undertaken over the failure of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to consult and coordinate with the provincial government before resuming the cutting trees along the Manila North Road (MNR) in the province.

The cutting of more than 500 trees was covered by a sanitation tree cutting permit and earth-balling permit issued by the DENR regional office through Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno, which set the period of cutting within 45 days.

Expressing his personal disgust over the matter, Calimlim said the two agencies should have consulted the provincial government as well as other stakeholders before resuming tree cutting operations as provided for in the permit.

It should have been consulted first with the community, the people and the provincial government in order to gather their overall sentiment over the issue, he said.

In a letter to the DPWH and DENR dated March 5, Governor Amado Espino Jr. wrote that the provincial government is “absolutely against the cutting of any more living and surviving trees along the MNR”.

Moreover, the governor called on all concerned government agencies such as the DENR to exert all means to treat and rehabilitate those previously girdled trees that have a good chance of survival.

Pursuant to the matter, the provincial board ratified provincial Resolution No. 269-2014 expressing the board’s opposition “to the cutting of trees along the national roads within the province, with intent to preserve as many trees as possible with stern warning to the DPWH 3rd Pangasinan Engineering District not to cut any of the standing big trees, numbering becore at more or less 700.

It was learned that the renewed tree cutting went full blast immediately after the tree cutting permit was received by the DPWH third engineering district on November 19.

Meanwhile, Espino reiterated the provincial government’s stand that “only dead and dying trees should be cut.”

Expressing no objection to the cutting and removal of dead trees, the provincial board required the DENR to certify that the trees to be cut are already dead and beyond revival.

On the part of the DPWH, Emmanuel Diaz, head of the agency’s third engineering district based in the town of Rosales said: “The trees should go. We have to finish the project by the end of this year.”

More than 500 living trees were the only ones remaining from the previously marked 1,829 trees billed for cutting in 2013 along the 42-kilometer MNR in the towns of Rosales, Villasis, Binalonan, Pozorrubio, Sison, and Urdaneta City.

Environmentalist groups, on the other hand, specifically running-priest Fr. Robert Reyes, condemned the tree cutting even as they are continuously exerting all efforts to stop this kind of activities.

In a separate interview, Virginia Pasalo, director of the Women in Development Foundation, also cried foul over the cutting of trees as she lamented the inevitability of the killing of the trees that have been there for decades. PNA